Valle de Bravo
Valle de Bravo (aka Valle) is a town and municipality located in Mexico State, Mexico, located on the shores of beautiful Lake Avándaro and surrounded by blue green mountains marked by the abundance of pine trees. Within a 2-hour drive (app. 155 km) southwest of Mexico City and west of Toluca, Valle is a popular getaway for the affluent, well-heeled class of the capital city. In its picturesque setting, Valle has been referred to as the “Switzerland of Mexico”. Cool, fresh air coming down from the pine-forest mountains to meet cobblestone streets and colonial structures built around a town plaza makes the city an attractive place to secure a second home, especially if you are a wealthy inhabitant of Mexico City wanting to escape the rat race.
Valle is a 16th-century village, and like San Miguel de Allende, Taxco, and Puerto Vallarta, it is a National Heritage village, which means that all new construction must conform to the colonial style of the original village. In 2005, Valle was also designated a “Pueblo Mágico” city. The Magical Villages Program is an initiative led by Mexico's Secretary of Tourism in conjunction with other government agencies, to promote Mexican towns that offer visitors a "magical" experience through their natural beauty, cultural riches, or historical relevance.
Valle is all that, and to prove it, the village of approximately 50,000 people is bustling with tourists filling its hotels, shops, and restaurants on the weekends. Tourism is the town’s economic base, and with nearly 4,000,000 visitors to the area each year, 60% of the municipality’s inhabitants income is generated through tourism. The town is also known for hosting many festivals throughout the year, the largest annual festival is Festival de las Almas (Festival of the Souls). It occurs in late September or early October for 8 days, and this festival alone is attended by nearly 200,000 people.
Valle’s main plaza is the town’s focal point, and here visitors will see representation of the diverse cultures that still reside in the municipality. Under the arches of the main plaza visitors can enjoy delicious Mexican cuisine, and the crafts market a few blocks down offers a cultural experience as well. Here is where the language of the Nahua, Matlatzinca and Purépecha people can be heard, and colorfully dressed Mazahua Indians sell their handmade goods. Live music on the plaza bandstand makes Sunday afternoons festive and fun for locals and visitors.
Attractions and Things To Do in Valle de Bravo
From laid-back vacationers to thrill seekers, visitors to Valle will never lack for things to do. Opportunities for hiking, biking, rock climbing, mountain rappelling, horseback riding, parasailing and hang-gliding are all here; and the gear and guides for any of these activities are available on the boardwalk.
The Municipal Boardwalk and Dock at Lake Avandaro - here visitors will find a number of restaurants; some that float alongside the dock, and artists selling their work on the weekends. Businesses selling guided tours, or renting boats, fishing or water sport gear, are plentiful. Everything from horses to a driver with water ski equipment can be rented here.
Water Parks – Wave pools, lazy rivers, thermal springs and other water attractions found at area water parks offers a host of great fun for the entire family.
Santuario de la Mariposa Monarca (Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary) - Valle is the wintering grounds for the monarch butterfly. At this nature reserve, visitors can hike or ride horseback to observe the butterflies in their natural refuge. Excursions are available.
Paragliding & Hang-gliding – Ultra-light flying, hang-gliding, and paragliding opportunities are available. Valle de Bravo is world-famous for paragliding competitions. In 2009, The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale designated Valle to host that year’s World Championship competition.
San Francisco de Asis Church – a 17th century church constructed by the Franciscans. Originally, the church had two naves, one for the Spanish and one for the indigenous people. Preserved from the 17th century are the baptismal and holy water fonts and a carving of Saint Francis located in a vaulted niche in the main nave. The main bell was cast during the Mexican Revolution. Construction on a third and main nave began in the 1950’s by the town residents and finished in 1994.
Temple of Santa María Ahuacatlán – originally built as a chapel in 1864, and then converted to a church, the building is still under construction. A Black Christ is featured on the main altar and is still worshipped. The English artist, Phillipa, was recently commissioned to depict the relationship between Mazahua legend and the Black Christ.